Hello summer! Holiday season has arrived and here at Style Tails HQ, we are as happy as a cat in a suitcase. If, like us, your idea of a fun-filled summer holiday involves taking your precious kitty with you, no doubt your thoughts will have turned to travel. But don’t panic! As seasoned feline travellers, we’ve sussed out the BEST ways to travel with cats. Here’s the low down.
By now, you’ve probably endured a trip to the vet with your cat in the car. If it wasn’t the pleasant experience you were hoping for, the thought of a longer journey this summer can be worrisome, to say the least. But thankfully, it is actually possible! The key is to keep our kitties comfortable and make the car a pleasant environment, which all begins with desensitisation.
TOP TIPS FOR DESENSITISING YOUR CAT TO THE CAR
- Having tried travelling with our cat both on a lead and in a carrier, the carrier wins hands down. While you may feel you cat will be happier if they are free to roam around in the car, the reality is totally different. The driver will be distracted and your poor cat will be distressed, particularly when they try to get underneath the car’s pedals and are refused access. So without a doubt, purchase a secure cat carrier before your trip.
- While your cat will be travelling in a carrier, it’s still a very good idea to help them associate positive things with the car. Cats are territorial creatures so an unknown car will be new and frightening for them. Bring your cat into the car, allow them to sniff, explore and rub their scent freely. Do this for five minutes at a time, a few times a day, extending the duration as they become more comfortable in the new surroundings.
- Leave your kitty’s blanket in the back of the car before the trip. Again, this will allow their scent to diffuse through the air and it’ll help it feel like home.
- With your cat in the stationary car, whether it be a full meal or a treat, giving them access to food will also help them associate it with being a pleasant environment.
- Next, start introducing the crate to the car. Begin by leaving the crate door open, allowing the cat to enter and leave as they wish. On another occasion, pop your cat in the carrier, start the engine and leave it running so that they begin to get used to the sound. Afterwards, give your cat a treat, a catnip filled toy or plenty of attention so that they begin to associate being in the carrier in the car as a good experience.
- Finally, the next time you start the car, back out of the driveway several times so that your cat acclimatises to the movement. This should be repeated several times. It’s laborious, but trust us, it works!
- Build up the duration of the journey starting with a trip around the block, a mile drive, then two, etc. Make it a positive and rewarding experience so that they begin to look forward to each trip.
- Voila – one happy kitty who is a keen traveller.
TOP TIPS FOR THE JOURNEY
- Before your trip, make a stop at the vets for a check up, making sure vaccinations are up-to-date, and your cat is micro-chipped.
- Give your car a check-up too. A breakdown during your trip definitely doesn’t lend itself to a relaxed approach, so make sure your car is given a full once over.
- Purchase a good cat carrier. This should be large enough for your cat to be able to move around freely. Stuffing your fully grown Maine Coon into his kitten carrier just won’t cut it.
- Keep calm. A de-stressed owner makes for a calm kitty. There’s no denying that cats pick up on our emotions so keeping calm will ensure they feel that way too.
- Plan your journey in advance. You’ll want the journey to be as quick and safe as possible and getting lost is definitely an unwelcome scenario. Make sure you book cat-friendly accommodation ahead of your trip too.
- Keep cool. If your car has aircon, have it cooler than you like. These furry creations tend to overheat when stressed so keep the car as cool as possible. Purchasing some window sunshades for the back is a good idea too.
- Never ever leave your cat alone in the car!
- Create a comfortable environment. As well as a nice temperature, keep the music volume low and don’t introduce strongly scented air fresheners.
- Make a list of everything you need. Bring extra food, a bed, toys, bowls, litter box and extra litter, scoop and poop bags and a scratching post. You may find you pack more for the cat than yourself and that’s definitely okay!
Armed with these top tips, travelling with your cat can be an enjoyable experience for all! We’d love to see photos of your kitties in the car – tag us on Instagram @styletails.